10 Best Selling Bands of All Time

Ranking the best bands of all time is a subjective matter, but by considering factors such as sales, tours, and awards, we can derive a list based on the opinions of millions of people. However, it’s important to note that musical expertise and mass appeal do not always align. This means that some highly skilled bands may not make the list simply because they lack widespread popularity.

Comparing this list with other rankings like the wealthiest rock stars or the best guitarists of all time can reveal interesting patterns in the music industry. Do financial success and musical talent go hand-in-hand? Is there a particular role in the band, such as lead guitar or vocals, that drives success?. But for now, let’s dive into our list of the all-time greatest bands with a number of honourable mentions first from:

AC/DC AC/DC is an Australian rock band formed in Sydney in 1973 by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young. The band’s high-energy, riff-driven hard rock sound has made them one of the most popular and enduring bands in the genre. AC/DC’s classic lineup consisted of lead vocalist Bon Scott, lead guitarist Angus Young, rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young, bassist Cliff Williams, and drummer Phil Rudd.

AC/DC released their debut album, “High Voltage,” in 1975 and have since gone on to release numerous successful albums and singles, including “Back in Black,” which is one of the best-selling albums of all time. They are among the giants of heavy metal with their 130.2 million certified sales. Even the other pros in the music industry praise them for their performances and music.

Guns N’ Roses Guns N’ Roses is an American rock band that was formed in Los Angeles in 1985. The band’s original lineup consisted of lead vocalist Axl Rose, lead guitarist Slash, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, bassist Duff McKagan, and drummer Steven Adler. They gained fame in the late 1980s and early 1990s with their hard rock sound and controversial lyrics, which often touched on themes of sex, drugs, and violence.

Guns N’ Roses released their debut album, “Appetite for Destruction,” in 1987, which went on to become one of the best-selling debut albums of all time. They boast 80.4 million units moved, of which almost half come from one amazing album with extremely successful singles.


Aerosmith is an American rock band formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1970. The band’s original lineup consisted of lead vocalist Steven Tyler, lead guitarist Joe Perry, rhythm guitarist Brad Whitford, bassist Tom Hamilton, and drummer Joey Kramer. Aerosmith’s music is characterized by their bluesy hard rock sound and Tyler’s distinctive vocals.

Aerosmith released their self-titled debut album in 1973, which was followed by a string of successful albums throughout the 1970s and 1980s, including “Toys in the Attic,” “Rocks,” and “Permanent Vacation.” Their music often features memorable guitar riffs and hooks, as well as Tyler’s powerful vocals and lyrics that touch on themes of love, sex, and rock and roll. Aerosmith is considered one of the most influential and successful rock bands of all time, having sold over 150 million records worldwide.

With 104.9 million certified sales under their belt, but did you know they’ve made even more money through their work with the Guitar Hero video game franchise?

Deep Purple Deep Purple is an English rock band formed in Hertford in 1968. The band’s original lineup consisted of vocalist Rod Evans, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, bassist Nick Simper, keyboardist Jon Lord, and drummer Ian Paice. Deep Purple is known for their heavy, guitar-driven sound and use of classical influences in their music, as well as their dynamic live performances.

A pioneer of heavy metal and modern hard rock. They have lifelong followers and continue to gain new fans. Their longevity is impressive.

Iron Maiden is said to have sold over 100 million albums worldwide though it hasn’t been tracked.

Metallica Certified Sales: 106 Million. Metallica have consistently pushed the boundaries of heavy metal music, proving relevant after more than four decades of making music.

The Eagles. The Eagles are an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1971. The band’s original lineup consisted of Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, and Randy Meisner. The Eagles’ music is characterized by their distinctive vocal harmonies, country-tinged rock sound, and socially conscious lyrics.

The Eagles gained fame in the 1970s with a string of hit albums and singles, including “Hotel California,” “Desperado,” and “One of These Nights.” They are one of the best-selling bands of all time, having sold over 150 million records worldwide. The band went through various lineup changes over the years, with notable members including Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit. The Eagles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 and continue to tour and perform to this day. Certified Sales: 152.8 Million.

10. The Doors

Certified Sales: 50.5 Million

The Doors were active from 1965 to 1973, a short eight-year run, but quickly became one of the most influential bands of the counter-culture era and a largely controversial band due to Jim Morrison’s erratic behavior. Every decade has had a revival in interest in the band and new fans added, due to cover songs becoming popular, usage of their songs in hit movies, movies about them, etc.

Their first album The Doors re-entered the Billboard charts 14 years after its initial release as did their greatest hits and “best of” albums. Their legacy will live on this way forever, it seems, as it should. They even created a brand new song in 2012 with Skrillex of all people, called “Breakn’ a Sweat.”

9. Queen

Certified Sales: 184.1 Million

Queen already earned their slot on this list but lately, they’re gaining even more ground. Since 1970 they’ve not stopped touring and creating new music, albeit with new vocalists since Freddy Mercury passed. They’re name may be Queen but they’re the kings of arena rock and pop rock. They’re songs are still over-played today to the point where many of us are about sick of them.

If you’ve been to a sporting event, you’ve undoubtedly heard their anthems chanted by those in attendance to intimidate the opposing team. The work they did for the Flash Gordon and Highlander makes them some of the best soundtracks ever. There was even a biographical movie made about the band recently. That’s a big time.

8. Nirvana

Certified Sales: 56.0 Million

Nirvana’s breakout star was undoubtedly Kurt Cobain, and since his passing and the breakup of the band in 1994, Dave Grohl has gone on to be a musical great, playing the drums, bass, and singing vocals for countless bands and collaborations. It was “Smells Like Teen Spirit” that launched them to stardom in 1991.

It didn’t take long for them to win all of the music awards in rapid succession, even being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the first year of their eligibility in 2014. It took the strength of their Nevermind album to finally knock Michael Jackson’s Dangerous from the top spot on the Billboard charts.

7. The Who

Certified Sales: 27.9 Million

If you’re like me, you may be thinking “why, though?” The Who has a huge appeal, with their pop art and mod subculture influences and even more so thanks to their rock opera Tommy and its success. I like any concept album and theirs is great. The tours were enormous and exciting, which helped amplify the hype surrounding them.

It’s not just their music. They contributed to the development of the Marshall stack, the use of the synthesizer in rock, the use of large PA systems, and even down to things like power chords on the guitar. Musicians appreciate them more than fans and cite them regularly as a top influence, and fans have to respect their favorite artists’ opinions.

6. U2

Certified Sales: 114.8 Million

U2 formed as a crew of friends in secondary school in Dublin, Ireland before any of them had any real proficiencies with music. Within four years they scored a record deal. By their fifth album, they became a global sensation. At the present, they’ve won 22 Grammy Awards, more than any other band, period.

Part of their success is every time they run into controversy or boredom from their fan base, they evolve and revolutionize their sound. They’re huge experimenters, and The Edge really exemplifies this with his guitar pedal array.

5. The Beach Boys

Certified Sales: 32.7 Million

The Beach Boys rode the wave of the California Sound of surf rock and then evolved into more personal themes as their fan base also matured. Their music’s orchestrations and arrangements became so complex that, like the Moody Blues, they couldn’t perform it faithfully live on stage.

Their vocal harmonies were recorded in one take early on and are absolute perfection that few achieve today. They’re one of the few bands that found success before the British Invasion and maintained it during and after that period. These guys were deeply spiritual and if you listen closely you can hear it in the lyrics.

4. Led Zeppelin

Certified Sales: 142.4 Million

Part of reaching a wide audience is having a wide appeal. Led Zeppelin played music in the blues-rock and folk-rock genres but are also thought of as progenitors of heavy metal, too. Possibly the most influential and popular song in rock history is their single Stairway to Heaven. These guys did it big, every time.

The concerts broke records for people in attendance. Their albums rank among the top-selling ever. Each of their nine total albums reached the top 10 and six reached the number-one slot on the charts. They’ve earned all of the music awards available. Their legacy is everlasting among musicians and fans alike.

3. Pink Floyd

Certified Sales: 123.8 Million

Even with their early releases led by Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd was already making their mark on the British rock scene. Later, when David Gilmour joined the band and took over the creative direction they gained international recognition. Four of their albums topped both the US and UK charts, though only two of their singles ever reached the top 10 in either region.

In a six-decade career, they’ve released 15 albums and toured to support each release. They even composed film scores for some lesser-known movies. Two of their albums, The Wall and The Dark Side of the Moon are both in the list of the best-selling albums of all time. Dark music like theirs won’t ever be considered a pop, but they have just as many fans and longer-lasting popularity.

2. The Rolling Stones

Certified Sales: 102.9 Million

The Rolling Stones are such a big deal that even the members’ solo careers, like that of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, are just as big. They got started in 1962 and were at the forefront of the British Invasion. Of the top 5 highest-grossing tours, four of them belong to this band.

Part of their success is attributed to them staying true to the safe foundational genres like R&B, soul, and rock. They even recently won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album. Consistency is key when pop music evolves and changes so rapidly, which is why they’re still on top after nearly 60 years.

1 – The Beatles

Certified Sales: 291.1 Million

The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. The band’s lineup consisted of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. The Beatles’ music is characterized by their innovative songwriting, catchy melodies, and intricate harmonies.

The Beatles rose to international fame in the early 1960s, known as the “Beatlemania” era. Their albums such as “Revolver,” “Rubber Soul,” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” showcased their evolution from their early rock and roll sound to more experimental music. The Beatles’ music touched on themes such as love, peace, and social commentary.

The Beatles had numerous hit songs throughout their career. Here are some of their most popular and iconic songs:

  1. “Hey Jude”
  2. “Let It Be”
  3. “Yesterday”
  4. “Twist and Shout”
  5. “A Hard Day’s Night”
  6. “Help!”
  7. “Come Together”
  8. “All You Need Is Love”
  9. “Something”
  10. “I Want to Hold Your Hand”
  11. “Can’t Buy Me Love”
  12. “She Loves You”
  13. “Ticket to Ride”
  14. “Yellow Submarine”
  15. “Eleanor Rigby”
  16. “Strawberry Fields Forever”
  17. “Penny Lane”
  18. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”
  19. “Blackbird”
  20. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”

The Beatles are widely regarded as one of the most influential and successful bands in the history of popular music, having sold over 600 million records worldwide. The band’s impact on music and culture is still felt today, and their music continues to be celebrated and enjoyed by new generations of fans.

The Beatles had a short run of only 10 years from 1960 to 1970, but they’re still the best-selling artists of all time by far. If you were to add in their solo albums and side groups, they’ll hold that record forever. They started young and led the British Invasion of pop and rock into the USA, and their fans grew up alongside them, purchasing each album as time went on.

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Stevie Flavio
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